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Construction company owner charged with Hate Crime in burning of mosque sign Florida
AP ^ | Sun Dec 1 2002 | AP

Posted on 12/01/2002 8:30:29 PM PST by heyhey

Construction company owner charged with hate crime in burning of mosque sign

BOCA RATON, Florida - A construction company owner accused of setting fire to a sign announcing the construction of a mosque has been charged with a hate crime.

Police officers who were watching the area after two fires and an ax attack said they saw George Aboujawdeh, 45, splash lighter fluid on the sign and run away from the flames in September.

According to the police report, Aboujawdeh said he wanted to send Muslims a message that "they're not liked here."

The reclassification of the fire as a hate crime last month makes Aboujawdeh the first person in Palm Beach County to be prosecuted for a hate crime directed at Muslims since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks last year, Michael Edmondson, a spokesman for the state attorney's office, said Saturday.

Aboujawdeh was originally charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief in the Sept. 4 fire. He now faces a possible sentence of a year in jail.

Bert Winkler, Aboujawdeh's attorney, said whatever happened was an isolated incident. "Mr. Aboujawdeh is an upstanding citizen in the community," he said. "We are working to resolve this fairly for all parties involved."

A report released by the state Attorney General's office in August showed hate crimes related to religion had increased by 54 percent in Florida over the year.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: hatecrime

1 posted on 12/01/2002 8:30:29 PM PST by heyhey
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To: heyhey
George Aboujawdeh

Sounds Indian (hindu).

2 posted on 12/01/2002 8:31:45 PM PST by BrooklynGOP
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To: heyhey
hate crimes related to religion had increased by 54 percent in Florida over the year.

Wonder if that figure includes the 5000+ murdered in the 9-11 attacks?

3 posted on 12/01/2002 8:33:34 PM PST by stainlessbanner
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Nevermind, I just read "Florida" not the good 'ol USofA!
4 posted on 12/01/2002 8:34:53 PM PST by stainlessbanner
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To: BrooklynGOP
George Aboujawdeh, 45, a Catholic from Lebanon , was ..........
5 posted on 12/01/2002 8:36:03 PM PST by dennisw
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To: heyhey
"The reclassification of the fire as a hate crime last month makes Aboujawdeh the first person in Palm Beach County to be prosecuted for a hate crime directed at Muslims since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks last year."

The first casualty in the coming war?

6 posted on 12/01/2002 8:36:25 PM PST by blam
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To: BrooklynGOP
I am confused: the name sounded Persian to me.
7 posted on 12/01/2002 8:36:52 PM PST by TopQuark
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To: TopQuark
I "Googled" that last name and found several Lebanese with that name. So that was my conclusion even before seeing the post above.
8 posted on 12/01/2002 8:40:10 PM PST by APBaer
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To: BrooklynGOP
Boca cops charge man in mosque sign fire

By Jon Burstein Staff Writer Posted December 1 2002

A construction company owner has been charged with a misdemeanor hate crime after two Boca Raton police officers said they watched him set fire to a sign announcing the new site of a mosque.

George Aboujawdeh, 45, is the first person in Palm Beach County to be prosecuted for a hate crime directed at Muslims since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, said Michael Edmondson, a spokesman for the State Attorney's Office.

An FBI annual survey released earlier this week showed that hate crimes nationwide against people of Middle Eastern descent, Muslims and South Asian Sikhs have jumped up from 28 in 2000 to 481 last year.

Aboujawdeh, a Catholic who was born and raised in Lebanon, told police that he set the sign on fire because he wanted to send Muslims a message that "they're not liked here," according to police reports.

The State Attorney's Office decided Nov. 19 to charge him with a single count of criminal mischief causing less than $200 damage. The charge typically carries a maximum six-month jail sentence, but because it was classified as a hate crime, Aboujawdeh now could face up to a year behind bars.

Boca Raton police arrested Aboujawdeh on Sept. 4 while they staked out the 4-by-8 foot sign on a vacant lot at 1501 NW Fourth Ave. The sign announced that the site would be the future home of the Assalam Center and had an artist's rendering of what the new mosque will look like.

Police had been watching the sign for six weeks prior after it was hacked with an ax and twice set on fire. They said they watched as Aboujawdeh doused the sign with lighter fluid and run as it went up in flames, according to police reports.

Officers ordered Aboujawdeh to stop and handcuffed him. He had a book of matches in his hand, and a plastic bottle containing lighter fluid was found near him, according to police reports.

When he was brought to the Boca Raton police station, Aboujawdeh admitted he intentionally set the fire because he didn't want the mosque to be built, police said. Aboujawdeh, owner of ARZ Builders, lives about two miles from the site.

Boca Raton police spokesman Jeff Kelly said the case against Aboujawdeh is closed and he hasn't been linked to the previous acts of vandalism to the sign.

Bert Winkler, Aboujawdeh's attorney, said whatever happened that night was an isolated incident.

"Mr. Aboujawdeh is an upstanding citizen in the community," Winkler said. "He's a family man. He's a hard worker. We are working to resolve this (case) fairly for all parties involved."

9 posted on 12/01/2002 8:40:31 PM PST by heyhey
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To: blam
Man gets 1 year for hate crime

By BRIAN M. SCHLETER, Staff Writer


A Baltimore man will spend a year in jail for verbally and physically assaulting two Middle Eastern men working at a Glen Burnie gas station.

Dennis O. Coe, 33, insisted he was not a racist, but pleaded guilty yesterday to a charge of engaging in a religious or ethnic hate crime, a misdemeanor. In exchange, prosecutors dropped assault charges that carry potentially stiffer sentences.

"That was the most descriptive of the crime he committed," said Assistant State's Attorney Laura Kiessling.

She heads a special unit started in August 2001.

"This is an issue that needs to be punished because of the significance of the crime," Circuit Court Judge David S. Bruce said. "It just can't be tolerated."

By all accounts, Mr. Coe was extremely intoxicated on July 30 when he went into the Shell station at 501 S. Crain Highway and started throwing merchandise.

He made numerous racial slurs about the mens' ethnic background and blamed them for the deaths in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. He punched one man in the face and swung at the other, who was shielding his 6-year-old daughter, Ms. Kiessling said.

The incident so traumatized the young girl that her father sold the gas station. However, the two men requested to have Mr. Coe's sentence include alcohol treatment, she said.

"It's the state's concern that alcohol only lowered his inhibitions. Clearly his actions were racially motivated," she said.

The victims weren't in court and couldn't be reached for comment.

Mr. Coe said he doesn't remember much of the incident because he was so drunk.

"I am not a racist," he said. "This was all because of a relapse of alcohol."

Mr. Coe's rap sheet includes 13 convictions for petty crimes, many of which resulted from his long battle with alcoholism, said his attorney, Elizabeth Palan of the Public Defender's Office.

"Treatment is obviously what's necessary. He has made attempts to go sober before. It doesn't always work the first time," she told Judge Bruce.

The judge imposed the maximum three years, then suspended two. After his release Mr. Coe will be on probation for two years and must attend anger management classes.

But Judge Bruce said Mr. Coe had to learn a lesson.

"I think a significant penalty is appropriate so that the next time you'll think twice before you go out and get hammered," he said.

The case is the first successful prosecution of a hate crime involving Muslims and people who are or appear to be of Middle Eastern descent in Anne Arundel County since Sept. 11, 2001. A second case in which a Brooklyn Park man is charged with assaulting and racially harassing his neighbors is awaiting trial.

Incidents targeting people, institutions and businesses identified with the Islamic faith increased nationwide from 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001 -- a jump of 1,600 percent.

The increases, the FBI said, happened "presumably as a result of the heinous incidents that occurred on Sept. 11."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

10 posted on 12/01/2002 8:43:29 PM PST by heyhey
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To: APBaer
Men arraigned on hate crime charges
11 posted on 12/01/2002 8:49:00 PM PST by heyhey
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To: heyhey
Ask any immigrant from the old country who came to live in America why they are here, and the vast majority of them will say that they love the freedom to raise their families free from the old hatred and fears which fester their countries of origin. Mr. Aboujawdeh has a year to sit and ponder his wrong actions.
12 posted on 12/01/2002 8:55:41 PM PST by Cultural Jihad
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To: Cultural Jihad
American Muslims Debate Large Donation by Saudi Prince
13 posted on 12/01/2002 9:04:30 PM PST by heyhey
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To: TopQuark
Bus driver’s ’Taliban’ remark prompts police response

Sunday, December 1, 2002

MARLBORO, N.J. (AP) — Passengers on a Greyound bus said the driver told them he was taking them “to the Taliban” after they criticized his meandering route Saturday night, prompting a massive police response.

The New York-bound bus hit heavy traffic soon after leaving Philadelphia, and the driver took several alternate routes to find less congested roads, said passenger Sally Weisbrot, 30.

“People were angry and making fun of the driver, yelling ’Do you know what you’re doing up there? Do you know where you’re going?’ He clearly was annoyed,” she said.

Weisbrot said the driver then shot back: “’I’m taking you to the Taliban.”

She said the driver was only joking because he was upset, but some people panicked and called 911 on their cell phones. Within minutes, 18 police cars surrounded the bus and pulled it over, she said.

Dara Salcman, a passenger from New York, said passengers were ordered to get off the bus with their hands in the air. Officers had their guns pointed at the bus, she said.

The bus driver was charged with creating a false public alarm, Marlboro Police Capt. Brian Hall said. He was expected to be released Saturday night on a summons.

“Needless to say, the comment that was made by the bus driver was inappropriate, especially in today’s world,” Hall said. “He said he didn’t mean it; he was just frustrated.”

Jamille Bradfield, a spokeswoman for Dallas-based Greyhound, said the company was cooperating with authorities.

The 30 passengers re-boarded the bus and continued on to New York with a different driver.

14 posted on 12/01/2002 9:11:14 PM PST by heyhey
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To: heyhey
Let's hope that the bus driver uses a little more common sense on his next job.
15 posted on 12/01/2002 9:14:40 PM PST by Cultural Jihad
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To: heyhey
If I represented these guys I would cite numerous passges from the koran calling for the destruction of non muslims.

Heck just rthe headlines from ANY world enwpaper from the past one month would be sufficeint.

islam is itself a hate crime.

These people wer excercising the right of self defense.
16 posted on 12/01/2002 9:19:34 PM PST by Kay Soze
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To: Kay Soze
Of course, your legal advice is worth exactly what anyone is willing to pay for it: ziltch.
17 posted on 12/01/2002 9:21:16 PM PST by Cultural Jihad
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To: heyhey
You can burn the American flag all day long but you damn well better not burn a sign announcing a islamic indoctrination center.
18 posted on 12/01/2002 9:23:48 PM PST by Texas_Jarhead
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To: Cultural Jihad
Another reason that immigrants come to America is their own contries are destroyed by invasion like Lebanon, the Christian country, that was overrun and destroyed by Syria the Moslem country in the Middle East. I hope that when he gets out of Jail, America is still a Christian country, because they have not yet jailed Louis Ferican for hate crimes. Oh LF, he has lived in America in the lap of luxury and preaches hate from his pulpet every day, and this guy? He has had his homeland destroyed by the Moslems, and he gets charged with the crime of defacing a sign.

I think the lights are on in the States but nobodys home...

19 posted on 12/01/2002 9:38:18 PM PST by American in Israel
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To: heyhey
All hate crime laws should be dumped immediately. They create a special class of protected people and negate the idea that all are equal under the law. This crime is no more vicious than it would be if the fool burned some kids lemonade stand sign, for whatever jackass reason ran through his head. Arson is arson and criminal mischief is CM, motive is not a crime, the criminal act is. It's no less a crime if the motive is monitary gain, than some particular dislike.
20 posted on 12/01/2002 9:52:31 PM PST by spunkets
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To: dennisw
Arab Christians, whom we have quite a few of in this country, do NOT get along with Muslims (to put it mildly)...many of them have personal horror stories of having to live as a minority to them in their home country---they came here to escape the Muslims...
21 posted on 12/01/2002 9:59:07 PM PST by stands2reason
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To: stands2reason
Arab Christians, whom we have quite a few of in this country, do NOT get along with Muslims (to put it mildly)...many of them have personal horror stories of having to live as a minority to them in their home country---they came here to escape the Muslims...

And now, where do the Arab Christians go, now that the Muslims are attempting to take over this country (with a little help from the liberal elite who also hate Christians).

22 posted on 12/02/2002 12:10:15 AM PST by 3catsanadog
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Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

To: spunkets
So it starts, Muslims are given a free pass to attack Americans. Yet if you say something about the cult of death you go to jail!

PC is going to end this country!

24 posted on 12/02/2002 12:25:42 AM PST by TLBSHOW
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To: heyhey
The charge typically carries a maximum six-month jail sentence, but because it was classified as a hate crime, Aboujawdeh now could face up to a year behind bars.

The bus driver was charged with creating a false public alarm, Marlboro Police Capt. Brian Hall said. He was expected to be released Saturday night on a summons.

The moral of this story is that Aboujawdeh shouldn't have set the sign on fire. He should have stolen it, and when apprehended, said "I'm taking it to the Taliban."

25 posted on 12/02/2002 12:49:53 AM PST by lonevoice
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To: TLBSHOW

And we all have lighter fluid dripping from our mouths, eh? You are starting to sound like a whiny cop-out 'Rat: "I was arrested merely for speaking out!"

26 posted on 12/02/2002 6:13:31 AM PST by Cultural Jihad
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